Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, tweeted a lone image of the Iranian flag shortly after a series of surface-to-surface missiles struck at least two military bases where US and coalition troops are based.
It might not seem like much, but the image — retweeted more than 3700 times already — mirrors a tweet by the US President following the assassination last week of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Mr Trump posted a picture of the US flag to his Twitter feed on January 3.
Saeed Jalili’s tweet was followed by a far less subtle message from Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, who wrote: “Get the hell out of our region!” followed by the hashtag #HardRevenge.
The same minister tweeted on January 5 comparing Mr Trump with Adolf Hitler and to Islamic State.
“They all hate cultures. Trump is a ‘terrorist in a suit’,” he wrote.
“He will learn history very soon that NOBODY can defeat the Great Iranian Nation & Culture.”
The hashtag #HardRevenge has taken on a life of its own since the attacks and has been tweeted thousands of times — many directly to Mr Trump.
Iranian officials said the attacks, confirmed by US officials, marked the beginning of a promised retaliation against the US for the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement on a Telegram channel.
The Revolutionary Guard later warned that if the US responds to its attack in Iraq, Iran “will respond to you in America”.
US Defence Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the rockets were clearly from Iran and the attacks were “targeted” at the bases in Ain Assad and Irbil.
Hoffman said the US was “working on initial battle damage assessments”. There was no immediate word on injuries.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said the Ain Assad airbase was “completely destroyed”.
The attack was “a total success by all accounts,” the Revolutionary Guard said.
Iranian state TV said the attack was a revenge attack for the killing Soleimani, whose funeral on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman prompted angry calls to avenge his death, which drastically raised tensions in the Middle East.
State TV said the operation’s name was “Martyr Soleimani.”
It said the Guard’s aerospace division that controls Iran’s missile program launched the attack. Iran said it would release more information later.
— Ali Arouzi (@aliarouzi) January 8, 2020
On US soil, security has been increased, including at the grounds of the White House, according to CNN.
Security has been increased around the grounds of the White House tonight in light of the current tensions with Iran, a law enforcement official said.
A US Secret Service official declined to comment, passing along a statement released by the agency, saying it “continually assesses the threat environment surrounding all protectees.”
USSS officers with assault rifles were spotted at checkpoints near the White House.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded to the attacks by directing the Australian Defence Force to undertake “whatever actions are necessary” to keep Australians safe.
In a statement he issued via Twitter, Mr Morrison said he was “closely monitoring” the situation.
At the same time, America’s Federal Aviation Administration is barring US pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.
The agency is warning of the “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.
The FAA said the restrictions were being issued due to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations.”
— with AP
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